UNE RESEARCHER AWARDED NIH GRANT TO STUDY EFFECTS OF FLAME RETARDANT ON BONE DEVELOPMENT | Business

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UNE RESEARCHER AWARDED NIH GRANT TO STUDY EFFECTS OF FLAME RETARDANT ON BONE DEVELOPMENT
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BIDDEFORD, Maine — University of New England Associate Professor Deena J. Small, Ph.D., was recently awarded an National Institutes of Health AREA grant to study the effects of exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants on bone cell development and bone health. 
 
Dr. Small, in UNE’s Department of Chemistry and Physics, is the principal investigator of the two-year $196,701 award, which will be conducted in collaboration with toxicologist Vincent Markowsky, Ph.D., of SUNY, Geneseo.
 
National Institutes of Health AREA (Academic Research Enhancement Award) grants have three goals: to support meritorious research; to strengthen the research environment of the institution; and to expose students to research.  In addition to supplies and related costs of the research, the grant will also fund 2-3 undergraduate research projects at UNE and SUNY Geneseo over the next two academic years.
 
PBDE are chemical flame retardants seeded into many household goods and appliances including carpeting, upholstery and electronics. PBDEs are considered “indoor pollutants” because they collect in household dust after being released into the air from the products in which they are seeded. PBDEs find their way into the body either through inhalation of the contaminated dust or ingestion of food sources.
 
Although the effects of PBDEs on the body are not well understood, there is evidence to suggest that these endocrine-disrupting chemicals may interfere with the production and/or function of thyroid hormone. In addition to its role in metabolism, thyroid hormone is also an important regulator of bone cell development and bone growth.
 
Dr. Small’s and Markowsky’s research will be the first to determine if PBDE exposure causes abnormal bone cell development that may predispose individuals to bone abnormalities or osteoporosis.  In addition, the study will also examine the molecular mechanisms by which these chemicals modulate thyroid hormone function in bone and other tissues.
 
These studies are expected to provide novel information regarding the significance of the biological effect underlying the continued risk that exposure to these prevalent environmental contaminants has on bone growth and maintenance in children and adult populations.
Named one of the best regional universities in America by US News & Report, UNE is a leader in health sciences education, biomedical research and the liberal arts, offering student-centered programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Pharmacy.   For more info, visit www.une.edu.

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